It’s not often games between two conference teams played less than a month apart would feature so many personnel changes.
But that’s the case today when Gonzaga faces USF. These two teams have changed greatly since the Zags’ 72-56 win Jan. 27 in Spokane.
Gonzaga’s evolution has been covered in great depth here, in the paper and on every media outlet in the city. Sufice to say, without Josh Heytvelt in the middle, the Zags (19-10, 9-3 in WCC play) are a different team. Better, worse, that’s a discussion for another time, but different, there’s no argument there.
Another change today may have to be made due to Sean Mallon’s ankle, injured in the Memphis game. Mallon insisted after the Portland game he would be ready to play this weekend, but how effective he’ll be remains to be seen.
But USF is different as well. The Dons (12-16, 7-5) didn’t have their point guard in the first game, Antonio Kellogg. He was sitting out games in an attempt to improve his academic standing. Without him, shooting guard Armondo Surratt moved over and played the point. With the added duties, his scoring disappeared and he put up a doughnut in the Spokane game.
Since then Surratt injured his knee and has missed three consecutive games. He probably won’t play today, forcing Kellogg take the reins of the offense alone.
Who will adjust to the changes better? The answer to that may just decide today’s game.